ISLAMABAD, Oct 29: Yaqub Masih yells at his brother to be “fast and quick”, as both pick up fats and small intestines leftover in a locality after Eid. Both brothers are on the move, collecting animal waste thrown away by people.
“Four members of our family are engaged in this business, which will get us some income for the holidays,” Yaqub said.
“We collect these leftovers and bring it here,” he said unloading his sack in a makeshift stall, set up by his uncle on 6th Road Rawalpindi.
This is the first stage of the recycling business. Within hours the fats and tallow will be bought by bigger players in the business. The rate varies between Rs60 to Rs70 per kilogramme.
These buyers either sell it to the processors or directly process the wasted lot by melting it and storing it in large ghee tins, said Yaqub.
“We have a factory near Rawat and we supply processed tallow to a soap factory in Rawalpindi,” said Zamrud Khan, who bought fats from the roadside sellers in the city.
Some even fear that this tallow is used in making cheap and low quality ghee – a concern that is openly and clearly denied by the Pakistan Vanaspati Ghee Manufacturers Association (PVMA).
“The fact is that fats and tallow have a typical smell that is not preferred by the people in mainstream Pakistan,” said Sheikh Razzaq, executive member PVMA.
“We import palm oil and palm olein to make ghee and edible oil,” he added.
However, he acknowledged that some unbranded kind of manufacturers might be utilising this processed tallow.
“But those who like to eat fats would get it directly from the source, rather than buying it from the scavengers,” he said.
“I am sure that most of this tallow is used in the soap industry.”
It is estimated that around 50 tons of animal fat would have been collected by the informal sector in the three days of Eid from the twin cities.
Though Eidul Azha provides an opportunity for local soap makers in the unorganised sector to procure cheap raw material in the form of animal fats, industrialists in the organised sector say animal fat collected during the season is normally of low quality and is used to produce laundry soaps.
“The quality of local fat is not good enough compared to the imported fat, so it is used to make cheap soap for the poor,” said Amir Abdullah Zaki, vice chairman Pakistan Soap Manufacturers Association.
“But if anybody is making toilet/beauty soaps from this tallow, it is unfair,” he added.
Mr Zaki said that the locally processed tallow is unhygienic and harmful for the skin.
Industrialists belonging to the organised sector say that they normally depend on fats imported from Australia, UK and the US, as there is no system to preserve and segregate fats according to quality for industrial usage.
The country has 150 soap factories in the formal sector in the country and there are some 400 units in the informal sector.
“We have always called for strict regulations in this regard, so that the tallow being processed locally should meet high quality standards,” Mr Zaki said, adding that “it will help reduce imports and lower our raw material cost too.”
Since, there is a limited check on the quality standards in the country, therefore it is difficult to determine, who is the end consumer of this locally-processed tallow.
The per kilogramme rate of processed tallow is between Rs150 and Rs200, however, the traders on Jamia Masjid Road and Ganjmandi Rawalpindi, see a business boom in the coming days, as production would go up, the purchase rates would come down.